What is hca in garcinia cambogia

What is hca in garcinia cambogia
People say it blocks your body's ability to make fat and it puts the brakes on your appetite.

Garcinia Cambogia: Safe for Weight Loss?

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Garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a popular weight-loss supplement. People say it blocks your body's ability to make fat and it puts the brakes on your appetite. It could help keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check, too. You'll find it in bottles on the shelf at the store as well as mixed with other ingredients in diet products.

Does it live up to its hype? Maybe a little, but it might not be worth it.

How It Works

The active ingredient in the fruit's rind, hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, has boosted fat-burning and cut back appetite in studies. It appears to block an enzyme called citrate lyase, which your body uses to make fat. It also raises levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which may make you feel less hungry.

But actual weight loss results aren't impressive. A review published in the Journal of Obesityfound that people who took garcinia cambogia in studies lost about 2 pounds more than people who didn't take it. The reviewers couldn't say for sure that the weight loss was because of the supplement. It could have been from the lower-calorie diet and exercise programs the people in the studies typically followed. Better studies are needed to find out if HCA really helps people lose a lot of weight and keep it off.

Type 2 Diabetes and High Cholesterol

Garcinia cambogia may make it easier for your body to use glucose, the sugar your cells need for energy. Mice that got garcinia cambogia in one study had lower insulin levels than mice that didn't. That's another reason, besides weight loss, that people with diabetes are interested in it. However, if you're taking garcinia cambogia along with a medication to control your blood sugar, your glucose could get dangerously low.

Some research has found that garcinia cambogia can also improve cholesterol levels, lowering triglycerides and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol). But you shouldn't use it if you're already on a prescription for your cholesterol.

Possible Side Effects

When you take garcinia cambogia, you might get:

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration warned everyone to stop using a weight-loss product that contained garcinia cambogia because some people taking it got serious liver problems. The product had other ingredients, too, so it's not clear that garcinia cambogia was to blame. While some research suggests the supplement is safe for your liver, other research says no.

Garcinia cambogia may interact badly with:

You definitely don't want to use it when you're pregnant or nursing, or if you have kidney or liver problems. It is possible that manic symptoms may emerge as a side effect.

To Buy or Not to Buy

Since study results are mixed, you should talk with your doctor to help you decide if taking garcinia cambogia is a good idea. Even if it's safe, it may not help you lose much weight. It's probably wiser to spend your money on healthy food or an exercise DVD.

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NYU Langone Medical Center: "Weight Loss Aids."

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If you can still see their order page, however, it is still available at the moment.

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Preuss, H. Nutrition Research, January 2004.

Preuss, H. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, May 2004.

Preuss, H. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research, February 2005.

Drugs.com: "Garcinia (hydroxycitric acid)."

Kim, Y. World Journal of Gastroenterology, Aug. 7, 2013.

Stohs, S. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods, November 2010.

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Medscape: "Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists."

Fat-Loss Hope Or Hype: The Truth About Garcinia Cambogia

Some say it's hyped, but others say it's just misunderstood. Hear from the researcher behind the most important studies and make your own decision!

Garcinia cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a small, sweet tropical tree fruit shaped like a pumpkin. In the late 1960s, scientists discovered an acid in the fruit somewhat similar to the citric acid found in fruits like oranges and lemons.

That acid—called hydroxycitric acid, or HCA—has ridden a rollercoaster ride of popularity over the last 20 years. It is alternately touted as a miracle weight loss supplement and derided as effective only in rats.

So where is the ride at now? Since late 2012, HCA has taken a steady ascent, and people around the world chat about "garcinia" like that's the name of their new personal trainer. (For the record, garcinia cambogia, hydroxycitic acid, and HCA all refer to the same thing. I'll stick primarily to HCA here to keep it simple). It can feel like anyone with even a passing interest in supplements has gotten asked by a small army of friends, loved ones, and cab drivers: "Is garcinia legit?"

So . is it? Knowing what I know now, this question sounds a little like asking, "Is a hammer legit?" It depends on the hammer and the person swinging it, right? So here's the deal: HCA isn't a miracle; it's a tool. Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of smashing their finger with a hammer can attest that tools only work when you know what to do with them and then follow through on that knowledge.

Luckily, in recent years we've learned a lot about not only what HCA supplements do in the body, but also how you can make the most of them. Here's what you need to know about this blockbuster fat-loss supplement.

HCA's Early Promise

HCA got its first taste of widespread popularity back in the '90s, after a number of studies concluded that it causedВ weight lossВ in animals. One thing we know is that HCA blocks a portion of an enzyme called citrate lyase, which helps turn sugars and starches into fat.

Block that enzyme, and carbohydrates get diverted into energy production rather than accumulating as body fat. Then, when you burn fat through effective training, there's less to replace it, and your overall fat level goes down.

HCA also seems to have an ability to help suppress the appetite, but not in the same way as a stimulant-based diet pill. Rather, it increases the level of satiety—satisfaction you receive from food—making it easier to eat less.

Many weight loss drugs pose potential hidden dangers and are “associated with hepatotoxicity and acute liver injury.” (7) In the case of garcinia cambogia, it can easily be overused and is not very well-regulated.

Pregnancy/Lactation Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

The mechanism by which it achieves this isn't entirely clear yet. The late great nutritionist Shari Lieberman suggested that a metabolic change brought on by HCA may send an appetite-suppressing signal to the brain via the amino acidВ 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is a direct precursor to the so-called "happy hormone," serotonin. Given that subsequent studies have shown elevated serotonin levels in subjects who took HCA supplements, she was likely on to something.

With these two impressive bullet points in its favor, HCA seemed on the verge of the big time, but the buzz faded quickly after a large study published in 1998 in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that it had "no effect" on human subjects.[1]

End of the line, right? Not quite. Subsequent research has produced some very different conclusions and helped convince me, among many other previously skeptical people, that HCA has real potential as a weight-loss supplement.

It's All About How You Take It

A few years after the lackluster results in the JAMA study, I had the opportunity to talk about HCA with Harry Preuss, a researcher and pathologist at Georgetown University, who saw enough to like about HCA to keep researching it after its popularity had waned. Preuss, a past president of the American College of Nutrition, told me he thought the previous studies were discouraging but not conclusive.

He decided to take a closer look. "You have to take the right dose of the right product, and you have to take it properly," he told me. "In the JAMA study, they used whatever the dose was at the time, and they never even mentioned the type of citrate they used. You have to give enough so that it reaches the sites in the body that it needs to reach." In recent years, Dr. Preuss has continued to hammer on the idea that maximizing bioavailability with HCA is crucial for its success. Fail to prioritize it, and you set yourself—or your study, in the JAMA's case—to fail.

It's an old story. Vitamin studies are often done by people who use the wrong dose or the wrong form, and then seem almost gleeful when they're able to proclaim that the supplements "don't work." Prejudice confirmed; case closed.

Dr. Preuss, who went on to lead the most promising human studies into HCA, points out that there are three different forms of hydroxycitrates: those which are blended with calcium, potassium, or magnesium salts. The reason to add these salts is to decrease the degradation of free HCA into HCA lactone, an inactive form of the compound. These salts, which are added at a 1-to-1 or higher ratio in most commercial HCA supplements, also help your body more easily absorb the hydroxycitrate.

"If you have almost a pure calcium hydroxycitrate, it's just not going to work," he told me. He said he prefers hydroxycitrate that is bound to both calcium and potassium; he says the bond dramatically increases the absorption and effectiveness of HCA.

Dr. Preuss and his colleagues put this premise to the test in a study where they followed 30 healthy but overweight people ages 21-50 over an 8-week period.[2] All of the subjects consumed a diet of 2,000 calories per day and walked for half an hour five days per week.

Lastly, if you use this method to get to your goal weight, whether you lose more weight or gain it back will depend on how much food you eat!

One group was given Super CitriMax, a patented form of HCA bound with both calcium and potassium. The other group was given a placebo. At the end of the study, the placebo group had lost an average of three pounds, but the HCA group had lost an average of 12 pounds—a whopping 400 percent more weight. Their average BMI fell by 6.3 percent; in the placebo group, it fell only 1.7 percent.

To top it off, the HCA group experienced an almost double boost in serotonin levels compared to the placebo group. Higher serotonin levels are associated with fewer cravings, as well as a greater sense of calm. In a second similar study, Preuss and his colleagues tested 60 people, and this time, the HCA group lost an average of 10.5 pounds compared to the placebo group, which lost an average of 3.5 pounds.[3]

"Perhaps the most remarkable result was in appetite control," Preuss says of the second study. "The placebo group had no change, but the HCA group had a 16 percent reduction in the amount of food they ate per meal!"

The Right Way To Supplement With HCA

It's far too easy to view supplements purely from the perspective of either "I take it" or "I don't take it." With some supplements, that's precise enough to see an effect. But the lesson here is thatВ how you take HCA matters. As such, Preuss has taken the new wave of HCA popularity as an opportunity to remind us all about how to get the most out of this supplement, most recently in a paper he co-authored for the Alliance for Natural Health in 2013 titled "Garcinia Cambogia: How to Optimize its Effects."[4]

Here are Preuss' recommendations:

  1. Choose a preparation that is at a minimum 50 percent HCA and is not composed wholly of calcium salts: Make sure potassium (K) and/or magnesium (Mg) is present. If the product has a low lactone content, that is even better.
  2. Be sure to take an adequate dose. For a Ca/K preparation used successfully and reported in a peer-reviewed publication, the dose of extract was near 1.5 g, three times per day before meals. In this 60 percent HCA preparation, that approximates 0.9 g of HCA prior to each meal.
  3. Take the preparation on an empty stomach, i.e., 30-60 minutes before each meal.
  4. Remember, "If you don't comply, don't complain." Take the right dose at the right time.

Note that he says "near" 1.5 g three times daily. Why not exactly 1.5? Given that HCA supplements come in a range of potencies and mixtures, it can be hard to be exact. Aim for the 1.5 g benchmark, but don't be obsessive.

Why on an empty stomach? It takes advantage of the appetite-curbing effect of the supplement, but even more important, HCA needs some space to work its magic.

"In the presence of food, the hydroxycitrate salt can bind to some of the components in the meal and be inactivated," Preuss writes. "This is called the 'food effect' and can seriously reduce the bioavailability of a number of supplements, not just HCA."

Follow these guidelines, andВ HCAВ can be an addition to your arsenal. Side effects are rare at the kind of reasonable doses that Preuss recommends, and since it's not a stimulant, you don't need to worry about it affecting your sleep or mood.

Regularly include proteins like cage-free eggs and wild-caught fish in your meals.

If you're looking to control your weight and are committed to eating right and working out, don't be afraid to add this popular supplement into the mix!

Can Garcinia Cambogia Help with Weight Loss?

Is there such a thing as a weight loss miracle drug?

Today’s market is full of “miracle drugs” and supplements that claim to help you drop pounds fast. It’s no wonder they fly off the shelves and into medicine cabinets across the country. TV personality Dr. Oz and others like him have showered praise on one of these products in particular: the controversial garcinia cambogia fruit.

Garcinia cambogia is a citrus fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. An extract from the fruit’s rind, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), has historically been used for cooking, but it has also been used for weight loss. You can buy garcinia cambogia online or at most health and supplement stores. It comes in pill form or as a powder. Let’s look at what, if anything, garcinia cambogia can do for your weight.

Advocates say that HCA, an organic acid, works by making you feel full, reducing your appetite, and affecting your metabolism. It’s this effect that has led many to herald it as a natural weight loss cure. Some say it may also help improve high cholesterol or enhance athletic performance.

The list of garcinia cambogia’s rumored benefits is a long one. It can be hard to determine the truth to the claims about its “miracle” properties. So, how do these health claims match up to scientific research?

1. Claim: Makes you feel full

Verdict: No evidence. An extensive review of the existing research on garcinia cambogia determined that there simply wasn’t conclusive evidence to suggest that the supplement or HCA had any effects on appetite and satiety. Although some rodent studies had positive results, no human studies could replicate them.

2. Claim: Lowers body weight

Verdict: No evidence. Existing evidence doesn’t prove that garcinia cambogia alone can facilitate weight loss. A 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in JAMA found that the supplement didn’t help with significant weight loss or decrease in fat mass. Both the control and garcinia group were placed on high-fiber, low-calorie diets.

3. Claim: Speeds metabolism

Verdict: Some evidence. There is some evidence that supplementing with garcinia cambogia can influence fat metabolism. Several studies have found that both mice and humans experience an increase in fat metabolism after supplementing with HCA.

4. Claim: Enhances athletic performance

Verdict: Some evidence. Garcinia cambogia may increase the amount of time it takes to reach exhaustion during exercise, according to one study. Another study that used mice had similar results, showing that HCA enhanced endurance during running.

In addition to knowing how well it works, you’ll also want to know about a supplement’s potential side effects. Reported side effects for garcinia cambogia are mild. They include:

There are still other factors you should consider when deciding whether to use a supplement such as garcinia cambogia.

Drug interactions

As with all dietary supplements, HCA could interact with medications you take.

The second most important function is preventing you from regaining the weight you already lost.

Before starting HCA, be sure to talk to your doctor. Make sure they know about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as other supplements.

Part of the allure of garcinia cambogia is the fact that it comes from a fruit, so it’s considered “natural.” However, this alone doesn’t make it a worthwhile supplement or even safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using caution with products that claim to be quick fixes, promise fast weight loss, and use the term “natural.” Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe. There are many poisonous plants that are natural, but can cause you serious harm. Many plants interfere with medication or are actually medications themselves.

More importantly, dietary supplements such as garcinia cambogia aren’t studied or approved by the FDA before they go on the market. Furthermore, supplement makers can claim that their products support normal body functions as long as they have a disclaimer stating that the FDA hasn’t evaluated those statements. In other words, supplements containing garcinia cambogia have not been rigorously tested for effectiveness, quality, purity, or safety.

Possible liver problems

In 2009, the FDA recalled a product that contained garcinia cambogia because it was found to cause liver problems. Research since then has been conflicted, with some citing a link between garcinia cambogia and liver damage and other research finding no link. You should discuss this risk with your doctor.

Long-term use

A review of studies on HCA found that no studies have effectively looked at garcinia cambogia use for longer than 12 weeks. That means there isn’t enough evidence to ensure that it’s safe and effective for long-term use.

The danger of scams

It’s free, so what’s the harm, right? Actually, those free trials for products that claim to help you lose weight fast can present more harm than you might think. From surprise shipping fees to extra charges for products you didn’t realize you ordered, these trials can end up costing you money. For information on how to avoid these scams, check out this page from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Miracle” weight loss solutions rarely live up to the hype. Even when there is scientific evidence of positive results, the results are often so mild and minimal that users are disappointed to learn they still have to exercise and control their eating in order to reap lasting and significant weight loss.

Dr. Oz has come under fire for promoting “miracle” weight loss products on his show. His claims got him into trouble with the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. There’s a reason that claims such as his about products with no clear evidence of effectiveness are taken seriously. Many consumers trust his opinion and could be misled into buying something that is, at best, a waste of time and money, and at worst, laden with potential side effects.

According to the FDA, any product, whether natural or man-made, that’s strong enough to work like a drug is capable of producing side effects. Before you add a dietary supplement to your weight loss plan, discuss it with your doctor.